Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bridget Mary Meehan Shares with St. Andrew UCC in Sarasota, Florida - Overview of Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement and Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community on Sept. 4th

Pastor Greg Russell (on left) invited me to share  an update on the women priests movement and on Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community that meets at St. Andrew's on Saturdays at 4 PM for liturgy

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Opening with Slideshow on the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: "Women Spirit Rising"

Bridget Mary's Sharing with St. Andrew UCC Community:

The prophet Habukuk writes " The vision still has its time, presses forward to fufillment  and will not disappoint."

The vision of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. We are living prophetic obedience to the Spirit by ordaining women in apostolic succession so that justice for women in the church may become a reality. A male bishop with apostolic succession ordained our first women bishops so we have valid orders, but we are disobeying an unjust law. In order to change an unjust law, sometimes you have to break the law.
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

 The international movement started with 7 women ordained on the Danube in 2002, and now has grown to over 235 in 13 countries 
and 35 states in the U.S

I am deeply grateful to St. Andrew United Church of Christ for your gracious hospitality to Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community (MMOJ). MMOJ began as a house church in my home in Sarasota in 2006 with 4 people. In 2008 Bishop Frank placed an ad in the newspaper that stated that our Mass was not approved by the Diocese, then Tom Lyons, of  the Sarasota Herald Tribune wrote a column about us and ABC filmed a liturgy. After this, my house could not hold all the people who came! We met in a larger house, and again it was packed. Then, we came to St. Andrew and asked if we could meet here at St. Andrew UCC.

Like Jesus in the Gospels, you opened your hearts and your home in loving welcome to us. We have been blessed to celebrate beautiful ecumenical liturgies on Maundy Thursday, our members attend the weekly Wed. evening ecumenical liturgy and last year we started a new tradition- the pet blessing on St. Francis' Day. MMOJ has joined St. Andrew in outreach efforts to the needy in our Sarasota community. Some of you have attended one or more of our many ordinations here .

As we ordain women priests, our mission is to change the church, one grassroots inclusive community of equals at a time. Everyone is welcome  to receive sacraments especially those on the margins today including the LGBTI community, the divorced and remarried and all who are in exile from our church today. Our vision is live Jesus's example as a circle of compassion and love for the excluded, voiceless and powerless. We celebrate an inclusive liturgy on Saturdays at 4 PM. Each week our liturgies feature a presider team of ordained and non-ordained who create the worship aide and homily starter, We have dialogue homilies, use inclusive language and invite everyone around the table to pray the Eucharistic Prayer, give mutual blessings, and participate in prayer for Anointing the Sick for the ill. The Mary Mother of Jesus community makes all decisions at our yearly meeting including approving our annual budget. Our focus is on community empowerment and equality. We do not replicate hierarchy or clericalism. 

Two of our women priests attended the Jubilee for Priests in Rome. they met with a high level Vatican official who promised to deliver several thousand petitions of support to Pope Francis. They participated in a prayer vigil for women's ordination near the Vatican gardens and were escorted to their seats at the papal Mass by Roman police. This is certainly major progress. We have requested a respectful dialogue with Pope Francis to lift our excommunication.

In addition, Pope Francis recently appointed a gender balanced commission to study the issue of the ordination of women deacons. I believe that this is a positive step that could lead to the full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church. 

I realize that I wear rose colored glasses and  see the glass half- full!

We are midwives helping to give birth to a renewed Catholic Church in a community of equals, united in faith and love with God's people.

Questions and Answer Session with St. Andrew Congregation
We had a open, respectful and lively conversation. 
After our service concluded, I joined the community for the social reception in Stewart Hall after worship. 
I was deeply moved by the many expressions of solidarity by members of St. Andrew UCC Community.
It was a blessed experience!
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

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